As a health scientist and environmentalist I am interested in leaving this planet better than when I arrived. But I am also a consumer that wants to make sure the products I use are non-toxic as well as environmentally friendly.
Solving the worlds environmental issues can and should start with utilizing already existing natural resources and expanding on their capacity to fulfill a wide spectrum of need. Cannabis Hemp is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to the environment and more recently, health. However, the government’s War on Drugs has negatively influenced the thought around Hemp and unfortunately has in my opinion, ignored the obvious solution Hemp brings to the table.
Just for clarification the term ‘Hemp’ commonly refers to the industrial/commercial use of the cannabis stalk and seed for textiles, foods, papers, body care products, detergents, plastics and building materials. Industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, low-THC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug.
***For the purposes of this article I will not be talking about Cannabis oil for the treatment of illness and disease. This is an exciting and burgeoning field of science and preliminary health outcomes look very promising. I guarantee that I will write on this subject soon.
Lets take a look at why Cannabis Hemp should be considered the next major natural resource.
Cotton vs. Hemp:
- 1 acre of hemp will produce as much fiber as 2 to 3 acres of cotton.
- Hemp fiber is stronger and softer than cotton, lasts twice as long as cotton, and will not mildew.
- Cotton grows only in moderate climates and requires more water than hemp
- Hemp is frost tolerant, requires only moderate amounts of water, and grows in all 50 states.
- Cotton requires large quantities of pesticides and herbicides–50% of the world’s pesticides/herbicides are used in the production of cotton!!!
- Hemp requires no pesticides, no herbicides, and only moderate amounts of fertilizer.
Paper and Fiberboard:
- On an annual basis, 1 acre of hemp will produce as much paper as 2 to 4 acres of trees. From tissue paper to cardboard, all types of paper products can be produced from hemp.
- The quality of hemp paper is superior to tree-based paper.
- Hemp paper will last hundreds of years without degrading, can be recycled many more times than tree-based paper, and requires less toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process than does paper made from trees.
- Hemp can be used to produce fiberboard that is stronger and lighter than wood. Substituting hemp fiberboard for timber would further reduce the need to cut down our forests.
- It takes years for trees to grow until they can be harvested for paper or wood, but hemp is ready for harvesting only 120 days after it is planted
- Hemp can be used to produce strong, durable and environmentally-friendly plastic substitutes (Bio Plastic).
- Hemp plastic is recyclable and can be manufactured to be 100% biodegradable causing less pollution.
- Hemp plastic can be five times stiffer and 2.5 times stronger than polypropylene (PP) plastic.
- It also does not pose the health and safety risks associated with certain plastics that are reinforced with glass fibers.
- Hemp can grow on most land suitable for farming while forests and tree farms require large tracts of land available in few locations.
- Harvesting hemp rather than trees would also eliminate erosion due to logging, thereby reducing topsoil loss and water pollution caused by soil runoff.
- Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates and on most farmland throughout the world with moderate water and fertilizer requirements, no pesticides, and no herbicides.
Health and Nutrition:
Hemp seeds contain a protein that is more nutritious and more economical to produce than soybean protein. Hemp seeds are not intoxicating.
- Hemp seed protein can be used to produce virtually any product made from soybean: tofu, veggie burgers, butter, cheese, salad oils, ice cream, milk, etc.
- Hemp seed can also be ground into a nutritious flour that can be used to produce baked goods such as pasta, cookies, and breads.
- Hemp seed oil can be used to produce non-toxic diesel fuel, paint, varnish, detergent, ink and lubricating oil. Because hemp seeds account for up to half the weight of a mature hemp plant, hemp seed is a viable source for these products.
- Just as corn can be converted into clean-burning ethanol fuel, so can hemp. Because hemp produces more biomass than any plant species (including corn) that can be grown in a wide range of climates and locations, hemp has great potential to become a major source of ethanol fuel.
SLN’s Take Home Message
There seems to be no limit to the potential of Cannabis Hemp’s benefit to the economy and the environment as it is capable of producing significant quantities of paper, textiles, building materials, food, medicine, paint, detergent, varnish, oil, ink, and fuel. Buy products made of hemp and spread the word of its many uses.